David Starobin

Family Album

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It would be difficult to overstate David Starobin's importance in the development of new music for guitar, not only in the U.S., but internationally -- his impressive discography of pieces he commissioned, premiered, or promoted is testimony to that. This engaging collection of music written just before or after the turn of the millennium is the seventh volume of his ongoing series, New Music with Guitar. It includes suites of miniatures, with most of the movements lasting just a few minutes. The works of the five composers represented reflect a variety of musical styles, but they're similar in their quirky, out-of-kilter humor and their genial mixture of contemporary techniques with popular influences -- none of them are cerebral or strongly abstract. Danish composer Poul Ruders and Starobin contribute duets for guitar and percussion, which percussionist Daniel Druckman joins in. Both suites are lighthearted, with many moments of gentle humor tucked into their clearly differentiated movements. Tania León's Bailarín is a Latin-flavored dance, with the rhythmically irregular energy characteristic of the composer. The 6 Preludes for Guitar by William Bland are part of a work in progress that will eventually include 48 sections. Bland, a West Virginia composer, is known primarily through Bridge Records' advocacy of his music, but his inventiveness and the restless fertility of his imagination make him a composer who deserves broad exposure. Paul Lansky, whose Semi-Suite is the largest piece on the album, is on the faculty at Princeton and has spent most of his career in electronic music. He's a relative newcomer to acoustic instruments, but the depth of his compositional experience and his gift for lyricism make this a very attractive piece. Bridge's sound is clean and intimate.

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